L is for Lepus europeaus (Hare) and Leveret
L is for the Latin name for the hare. And L is also for Leveret, the name of a baby hare.
This superb image is by Allan Drewitt for Natural England, on Flikr.
Hares are very like rabbits, but a lot rarer, and altogether more wild and beautiful.
For me, a rabbit sits on the grass, fur lifted by the breeze – the hare is the spirit of the wind that parts the grass.
The hare is one of the most common folklore symbols around the world – not only because it is a mysterious creature that is hidden the main part of the year, but because it is extraordinarily adaptable and has spread into many countries all over the planet.
They are mainly seen in March when the females fight the males in courtship (see below, image taken by Allan Drewitt for Natural England), the amazing leaping, dashing and aerial combats are a sign of spring, new life and freedom.
In fact these displays carry on until autumn, but under the cover of long grasses they are not seen.
Hares do not live in burrows – they make a small scrape in the ground called a form, and stay as still as possible in their wonderful camouflage to avoid being seen.
However, if they are spotted, they will leap up and zig zag away at speeds up to 35 mph.
Females give birth to their young in grass, they are furred and can see and hop within minutes – she scrapes little forms for them to lie still in during the day.
She leaves them hiding in the grass while she eats to provide them with milk – she returns just once in the evening to feed them.
This is a photo of a leveret in grass by Laurence Poulange on Flikr.
Hares are one of the most beautiful creatures in the UK, but they are declining in numbers due to new farming methods, loss of habitat and the use of pesticides.
Poem? Which to do… I have one about a leveret which I have posted before, but which has been changed, and one I wrote more recently. I think I’ll go with the new one:
Hare is myth and magic,
soil and breeze,
its soul leaps light
as swirls of leaves,
its pelt of earth
glints in the sun,
forms as the dew
on grasses sprung,
all wild eyes
and legs and ears,
as moon in night-cloud –
Poem © Liz Brownlee
Photos © Allan Drewitt for Natural England, and Laurence Poulange.
Information from Wiki.
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